Worst flooding in decades: Cagayan cries for help

Aerial shot of the flooding in Tuguegarao taken Nov. 13 (Photo from Cagayan Provincial Information Office Facebook page)

Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba said he already asked the Provincial Board to be declared Cagayan under a state of calamity, admitting that its calamity fund has already been exhausted from its coronavirus pandemic operations and earlier floods.

By RAYMUND B. VILLANUEVA
Kodao Productions / Bulatlat.com

MANILA — It is Cagayan Valley’s turn to cry for help as the swollen Cagayan River submerged many barangays along its banks that led to the region’s worst flooding in decades.

As heavy rains brought by Typhoon Ulysses (international name: Vamco) inundated the region, Magat Dam has opened seven of its floodgates since Thursday, further swelling the country’s biggest river system and bringing near unprecedented flooding of communities from Central Isabela all the way to Aparri, Cagayan.

Hundreds of victims have spent days on their roofs, crying out to be rescued or be brought drinking water and food.

Local government units seemed overwhelmed and powerless, admitting they lack the equipment and personnel to deal with the crisis.

Even the region’s economic center, Tuguegarao City in Cagayan Province, is hard hit by the flooding with several of its barangays submerged in 15 feet of flood.

Water level reached as high as 13 meters at the city’s Buntun Bridge and the mighty river looked like the Pacific Ocean, Cagayan Provincial Risk Reduction and Management Office chief Ascio Macalan said on ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo.

Cagayan Provincial Risk Reduction Management Management Council (PDRRMC) reported eight deaths, and five injuries due to the flooding as of Saturday morning.

In a separate radio interview, Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba said several portions of the Maharlika Highway are impassable, hampering rescue and relief operations on nearly all municipalities located along the banks of the Cagayan River.

The local executive said that aside from the excess water continuously being released by the Dam, all from the Sierra Madre, Caraballo and Cordillera mountain ranges drain into the Cagayan River, worsening the flooding.

Cagayan River was already swollen due to incessant rains since Supertyphoon Rolly, and Typhoons Sonia and Tonyo.

“It has been two weeks since this (flooding) started,” the governor said.

Mamba said he already asked the Provincial Board to be declared Cagayan under a state of calamity, admitting that its calamity fund has already been exhausted from its coronavirus pandemic operations and earlier floods.

Flooding in San Pablo, Isabela. (Photo by Ninz Khalifa Mesa)

In San Pablo, Isabela, Barangay Auitan residents report of the worst flooding since the early 1980s and complain of lack of rescue and relief operations.

Residents with single-story houses have evacuated to houses with upper floors but many victims have remained on their roofs, neighbors with boats failing to rescue them due to strong currents.

Some victims have been wet and hungry for at least two days already.

Only two Magat Dam floodgates remain open as of Saturday morning and the flood has receded by three inches, relatives of victims said on Facebook.

#CagayanNeedsHelp and #IsabelaNeedsHelp have trended on Twitter, highlighting the desperation of victims and their worried relatives in Metro Manila.

Rescue and relief plans have yet to be announced by the national government, still busy with similar operations in the Bicol, Southern Tagalog (ST), Central Luzon and National Capital Region (NCR).

Typhoon Ulysses floods in Northern Rizal Province, Marikina, as well as parts of Bulacan Province and other NCR provinces have exceeded 2009’s Tropical Storm Ondoy, reports said, overstretching rescue and relief operations of both local and national governments.

Meanwhile, several church groups and activist organizations have begun their relief operations in affected areas in Bicol, Southern Tagalog and Metro Manila on top of bringing relief to the victims of the massive fire in Bacoor, Cavite at the height of Super Typhoon Rolly.(https://www.bulatlat.com)

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